» Posts Tagged ‘screenwriting’

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Hulu SFSThere are so many ways to go about learning how to make films, with resources that won’t cost you tens of thousands of dollars or have you sitting in lecture halls for the greater part of your early 20s. One ironclad piece of advice that always seems to be in the mouths and repertoires of great filmmakers is to watch and study films, because they can offer invaluable guidance, inspiration, or even mentorship to those who are looking for it. And if you’ve decided that this summer will be the one in which you buckle down for some serious cinematic cogitation, Hulu’s Summer Film School, which is a series of blog posts that break down the filmmaking techniques of some of history’s greatest films, might be right up your alley. More »

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199742.tif99% of everything ever written in the history of the world was written by hand, but today, almost every word starts its life on a screen. This is even truer in the case of screenplays, where programs like Final Draft make quick work of complex margins. And with penmanship becoming a dying art and decades of talk about “the paperless office,” there is no denying we are definitely heading towards a society where paper communication is a thing of the past, even if that day is decades away. Yet there are demonstrable benefits to writing longhand, and if you find yourself in a writing rut, or are just looking for a new way to look at things, then a pen (or maybe even a typewriter) might be just what you’re looking for. More »

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The Ludvico TechniqueStory is, at its core, a metaphor for how to live. We live vicariously through the characters we see on the page or the screen. So it follows that if you’re creating characters, they should be as real as possible. That is, of course, easier said than done, and a weak or unbelievable character can kill a screenplay or movie regardless of the plot (experimental film excepted). So what can be done? For writers, an understanding of psychology and human nature are vital in order to see people as they are, making it possible to make up people who are more like people than like characters. More »

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Mac-App-Store-Explore-Your-Creativity-Screenwriting-Promotion-croppedApple is running an Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store. That means for a limited time, you can buy several screenwriting apps at 50% off their regular prices. If you’re looking for more minimalist screenwriting tools, now would be the time to check out Highland or Slugline. If you’ve wanted to pick up Final Draft 9, but stayed away because of the sticker shock, 50% off may be the right price for you. You can even pick up Scrivener at half off. The Explore Your Creativity promotion in the Mac App Store is only for a limited time, though, and Apple is playing coy with the deadline. More »

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screencraftToday, ScreenCraft announced that they are now taking entries into the 2014 Action & Thriller Script Contest, which will feature cash prizes (that they’ve doubled since last year), as well as a venerable panel of top industry judges, including executives from Paramount, Fox, Warner Brothers, and more. So, if you have a script that fits into the action/thriller genre and you want to compete for the chance to get it in front of some real movers and shakers, then we’ve got the details on how to enter. More »

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Mike WhiteWhat does screenwriting look like? Waking up at 6am, pouring a cup of coffee — black, sitting down at a desk with last night’s Chinese take out strewn about, turning on your computer, going over notes, and finally, typing away for hours and hours until you remember that humans need food and sleep to survive. Now, raise your hand if that’s what screenwriting looks like in your own life. If you didn’t raise yours, you wouldn’t be the only one. In fact, screenwriter Mike White (Nacho LibreSchool of Rock, Orange County) details what the whole process entails for him, which actually includes a whole lot of not writing a screenplay. More »

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unproduced-screenplaysIn the 80s, the joke was that everyone, no matter what they did during the day, had a screenplay to hawk. With Joe Eszterhas getting millions for scribbling the plot of One Night Stand on a cocktail napkin, and Shane Black writing Lethal Weapon at the age of 26, what didn’t look like hard work looked good to lots of people. Much of this can be laid at the feet of one Syd Field, whose Screenplay took thousands of years of dramaturgical what have you and condensed it into a friendly set of easy-to-follow rules that helped spark the screenplay goldrush of the 80s. Yet the number of working Hollywood screenwriters stays the same, roughly, from year to year. So what, then is the secret? Is there even a secret? You’ll have to read until the end to find out. (Suspense!) More »

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walterwhite_tonysopranoA few months ago, I wrote a post called The Story of Story, which attempted to explain, in as simple a way as the subject can bear, the roots of narrative structure, and specifically, how these roots were planted several thousand years ago, in ancient Greece, and have been passed down through the works of Aristotle. Today, I’ll begin with a sort of riddle: what do David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, and Vince Gilligan, the mad genius behind Breaking Bad, have in common? That’s easy enough, you say. Well, then, what if I asked how they differed? It’s not an impossible riddle, but its answer just might be the key to the next story hurdle you have to surmount. And it might be closer than you think. More »

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Screenwriting 1Writing processes are as diverse as the writers who labor through them. There’s really no one way to churn out a script, but if you’ve just started on this incredible screenwriting journey, or are in a rut and looking for some new tools to help you become more productive, then Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (MilkJ. Edgar) might be able to help. In this Academy Originals video, Black details every step of his creative process, from how he goes about researching to how he lays out scenes written on a myriad of index cards. More »

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ScreencraftIf you’re interested in getting some exposure in TV writing, you might want to look into ScreenCraft’s Pilot Launch TV Script Contest. They are now accepting submissions for hour, half hour, webisode and non-traditional comedy and drama series pilots, which will be judged by executives, screenwriters, and consultants from NBC, HBO, and Funny or Die (just to name a few). The early deadline is coming up, so find out how to enter before time runs out. More »

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TypewriterA screenplay is made up of a lot of different pieces: acts, sequences, scenes, etc. Think of them as multi-sized blocks that you must stack, tear down, rearrange, and throw away until what you have before you looks something like a story. But before you can enjoy the tedious task of formation, you have to create these pieces, or blocks, from scratch. To help with this, screenwriter and frequent Tim Burton collaborator, John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride), whose blog you should be reading religiously, released a handy infographic/PDF of his popular post “How to Write a Scene” that gives screenwriters an easy checklist of 11 bullet points that helps guide them through the process. More »

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Rian Johnson Brick Script to Screen Austin Film Festival
If you saw the Internet in passing last week, you just might have caught wind of a small story about Rian Johnson joining a modestly successful sci-fi franchise to write and direct a future episode. For his sake, I certainly hope the first movie in the announced trilogy doesn’t tank, or Johnson may be out of a job. As I read that story, I was reminded of the Austin Film Festival Script-to-Screen panel I moderated with Johnson this past October to discuss his first feature film, the high school film noir Brick. Now only days away from principal photography on my first feature film, this feels like the perfect time to revisit our conversation to learn from Johnson and his experiences making this original take on the film noir genre. More »

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WoWSOne of the most challenging aspects of screenwriting is creating multidimensional characters that your audience can identify with, relate to, and be entertained by. Many times when I get hung up I ask myself, and maybe you do too, “Is my character likable enough to make the audience want to root for him/her throughout the entire story?” However, this video essay by screenwriting instructor, story consultant, and founder of Screentakes, Jennine Lanouette, explains why that may not be the question you should be most concerned about when dealing with characters. More »

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James Franco screenwritingIf you’re looking for some guidance on how to write your next (or current) screenplay, you may want to hit up James Franco. The actor/director/writer/producer/teacher (he’s taught in the film and English departments at USC, UCLA, CalArts, and NYU) has joined forces with former classmate and Rabbit Bandini Productions co-founder Vince Jolivette, as well as Skillshare to offer a self-paced, online class on how to tackle short scripts, including 15 video lessons on concept development, budgeting, and pitching. Enrollment is now open and only costs $25 (or $20 with a Skillshare membership). More »

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no film school summer films grants deadlines screenwriting documentary narrative

Our massive list of grants is back, and for summer it’s bigger than ever — more grants, more markets, and more opportunities for both US-based and International filmmakers to get funding! Looking to finance your next 3D feature? Develop your humanities documentary? Get your script picked up by a top agency? Yup, there’s an app for that. If granting puns don’t get you excited, this list of relevant opportunities with deadlines this summer just might. More »

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A Conversation with Jeff Nichols AFF part twoEarlier this year, I posted excerpts from my conversation with Jeff Nichols at the 20th Austin Film Festival and Conference, thanks to the generosity of AFF. Reading parts of the interview is nice, but I honestly believe you need to hear Jeff Nichols share his thoughts on writing and filmmaking in his own words. Now, thanks to AFF’s OnStory podcast, you get that chance. Using specific examples from his three films Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud, Jeff Nichols talks about his approach to characters and writing/directing, and he also hints at how his upcoming film Midnight Special will be different from his previous work. More »

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Final DraftIt’s time once again for another Final Draft 9 sale. If you are looking to upgrade to Final Draft 9 or purchase the full version, you can save 20% on upgrades, 30% on the academic version, and 32% on the full version if you buy from The Writers Store. But the sale ends today, May 31, 2014, so you don’t have much time if you want to take advantage of this sale. If you miss it, you’ll just have to wait until Final Draft 9 is on sale again a few months later. Check out the details below and find links to take advantage of the current sale at The Writers Store. More »

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Austin Film FestivalIf you already polished your screenplay for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship deadline earlier this month, you may want to consider one more submission. The final deadline for the Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition is May 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm PST. Why submit your screenplay to AFF? Read on to find out the benefits of submitting your script to the one film festival dedicated to screenwriting. More »

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Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 8.11.15 PM

Our festival run is almost complete and we’re preparing for our imminent online launch. Direct distribution is a moving target, and we’re constantly shifting our release strategy and making adaptations we feel are necessary. Our latest adaptation is going to be making the film available on more than one platform when we release. For this post I’ve also put together the first of three videos from hours of interview footage on the cast & crew’s experience of making Menthol. Click through to keep following along and to watch the video. More »

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The Note Behind the Note Rewriting CENTS for Production

After several rewrites leading up to the Academy Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist status, then several more beyond, we’re finally gearing up to shoot CENTS this July. Now the rewrites are for production. We can’t afford that location, so can the scene take place somewhere else? Can we combine those two parts into one? Does that waitress have to say a line? It will cost us $268 plus fringes. While rewriting for these production logistics, I’m also rewriting the script as the director. With this in mind, my fellow producer sent me some notes she had solicited from her trusted sources along with her own comment. Paraphrasing, my fellow producer essentially said, “I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but now that I have seen these notes, I’m not sure I really like our protagonist.” Oh boy. Time to take another hard look at the script and address the note behind the note. More »